‘If we can’t be competitive, what’s the point?’ – Mick McCarthy’s candid chat with Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans
Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy has had a candid conversation with owner Marcus Evans about how the club moves forwards.
The Blues boss saved the club from relegation after being appointed in November 2012 and subsequently oversaw finishes of ninth, sixth and seventh on a shoestring budget.
A disappointing 2016/17 campaign has left the team in a Championship relegation scrap with eight games to go though and McCarthy has repeatedly said he will consider his future this summer, despite having another year left on his deal.
Speaking ahead of a crunch home double header against fellow strugglers Birmingham and Wigan on Saturday and Tuesday respectively, he said: “I’ve been speaking to Marcus and both of us are of the same frame of mind – if we can’t be competitive, then it’s a bit like what’s the point?
“We’ve not been having major chats – it’s been a couple of calls. I like the fact that he feels exactly the same way. He feels that if we can’t be competitive, whatever competitive is at our level when hundreds of millions are being spent, then both of us are thinking ‘well what are we doing?’
“Come on, he’s a very, very successful businessman. He doesn’t want to be ordinary in any shape or form. My career, as a player and a manager, has been in the top two divisions, at international level, and I don’t want to be ordinary either. I want to be better than what we are doing now.
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“Let’s see how the rest of the games go, make sure we have enough points to stay in the league, then we will sit down and have a chat and see what we can do, if we are going to go forwards, for next season.”
With Championship clubs spending more than ever before this season, will it take significant investment in transfer fees for Ipswich to become competitive at the top end of the division again?
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“That’s for me and Marcus to discuss,” replied Mccarthy. “I guess it’s for me to propose to him what players are required and what they might cost. The problem is nobody knows what it might cost. I guess if it’s something that we can do he’d be prepared, certainly, to help.
“But, as I keep saying, he sticks five million of his own dosh in every year as it is. What’s he put in – a hundred million? Five million a year over 10 years, that’s 50 million. He doesn’t seem to be taking much out of it. I don’t know too many people who would want to keep doing that.
“It’s easy for everybody else to say ‘you’ve got to put some more money in’. Hold on a minute, how many people would actually enjoy doing that?
“I guess if we were up in the top six he does enjoy that, but he wants to be putting his money in and seeing we’ve got a chance of being successful.”
Asked if Evans had given McCarthy reassurances that he still believed in him, McCarthy replied: “I don’t seek that kind of a conversation out. Do you know what, the best compliment I ever had from him was when I told him ‘I’ll be brutally honest, I’d love to be at a club spending millions where somebody says you’ve got to get promoted this year or you’ll get the sack’.
“His reply to me was ‘well if I was at one of those clubs you’d be the first person I’d call’. I don’t need any more support than that. That will do for me.”
He continued: “It was a searingly honest conversation. I told him I’m ambitious and I don’t want to be in the position we’re in. The Villa job was coming up, somewhere else similar, and I said ‘I’d love to have that opportunity, don’t ever think I don’t want that’.
“I don’t want people thinking I’m happy to just be keeping Ipswich in the Championship. That’s not the case.”
Asked what he might be able to achieve with a transfer warchest, McCarthy quipped: “That would be nice to find out. It’s never been the case!”
Is there a danger he could be typecast as a manager that people call upon to work wonders on a budget?
“As long as I have a CV where enough people want to give me a job that’s all that matters,” he said. “I don’t want to be seen as just that though, no, not at all. I’m better than that.”
McCarthy added: “I do not want to be sat here at the start of next season thinking there has only been so many thousand season tickets sold and there’s apathy around the place. I don’t want to be here under those circumstances.
“I want it where people are enjoying the football, supportive of the players and supportive of me and we are back where we were 12 to 18 months ago. That was brilliant.”